Spinach Lasagna Bolognese

In Emilia Romagna and Tuscany, lasagna is comfort food, made with layers upon layers of pasta, Ragù alla Bolognese and béchamel sauce, and an abundant dusting of grated cheese before it goes into the oven. So whenever there’s a desperate need for comfort food that calls for a drastic remedy, well, there you have it. I posted a four-cheese lasagna recipe recently that I really enjoy. Today the spotlight is for his carnivore second-cousin since we don’t play favorites on this blog. And I used spinach pasta because everything turns green in the spring, even my food. Does it counts as a green vegetable? Hmm. I let you decide.

And like all of us, dear readers, Lasagna alla Bolognese improves with age, so, if you can, make it a day ahead and refrigerate it, the flavors will meld beautifully, and then you need only to reheat it gently in the oven before serving it. Enjoy!

  • Spinach Lasagna Bolognese

    • Serves 6
    • Ragù alla Bolognese recipe:
    • 1 lb ground beef
    • 1 lb ground pork
    • 1 lb ground veal
    • 5 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 carrot, finely chopped
    • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
    • 1 onion, finely chopped
    • sprig of rosemary and sprig of sage, tied together
    • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 3 cups red wine
    • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
    • 3 cups San Marzano crushed tomatoes
    • 1 large pinch of sugar
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • Bechamel recipe:
    • 5 tablespoons butter
    • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 4 cups milk
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1 1/2 cup grated Fontina or Robiola cheese, plus extra for top of the lasagna
    • Spinach pasta recipe:
    • 6 ounces spinach, blanched, pressed and dried
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 large egg yolk
    • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour or “00” flour, plus more for dusting
    • 1 large pinch salt
    • Semolina flour
    • Grated parmesan
    • For the Ragu alla Bolognese:
    • Heat the oil in a wide-bottomed saucepan, add the vegetables, herbs and chopped garlic, and sweat over high heat for 5 to 8 minutes without allowing it to color.
      Season the meat with salt and pepper and add to the vegetables, making sure that the meat is covering the base of the pan. Leave for about 5 to 6 minutes, so that the meat seals underneath and heats through completely, before you start stirring (otherwise it will ooze protein and liquid and it will steam rather than sear)
    • Stir the meat and vegetables every few minutes for about 15 minutes, until the meat starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. At this point, the meat is ready to take the wine.
      Add the wine and let it reduce right down to virtually nothing, then add the tomato paste and cook for a few minutes, stirring all the time.
    • Add the tomatoes, a pinch of sugar and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil then turn down to simmer and cook for about 1 1/2 hours, adding a little extra water if necessary, until you have a thick meat sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
    • For the bechamel:
    • In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat until melted. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook the mixture for about 4 minutes.
    • Add the milk, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg, add the grated cheese and stir until melted and set aside until ready to use.
    • For the spinach pasta:
    • Puree the blanched, pressed and dried spinach in a food processor (you should have about 1/2 cup puree).
    • Add eggs and yolk to puree in food processor, and process until combined. Add flour and 1 large pinch of salt, and process until dough just comes together
    • Transfer dough to a well-floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes, adding up to 2 tablespoons flour if dough is too sticky. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.
    • Cut dough into 8 pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time flatten dough into an a rectangular shape slightly thinner than the pasta machine’s widest setting. Run the dough through the pasta machine in succession to make thinner and thinner pasta sheets. Dust with flour if the dough is sticking. Store with semolina flour in between sheets to avoid sticking.
    • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cut the pasta sheets into strips that fit into your lasagna dish. Cook the spinach pasta sheets in boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain, and cool.
    • To assemble the lasagna:
    • Preheat oven to 350’F. Butter a 8 by 8 inches lasagna dish (or larger if you want). Spread a layer of Bolognese at the bottom (about a cup). Top with a layer of bechamel, sprinkle with grated parmesan and top and a layer of spinach pasta. Repeat alternating layers of Bolognese, bechamel, parmesan and spinach pasta until you reach the top of the dish. Finish with a layer of bechamel and the rest of the grated Fontina cheese. Place the dish on a baking tray and bake for 45 minutes, or until bubbly and golden on top. Let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting into it or let it cool, refrigerate and reheat the next day.
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  • Monica Luppi

    yummy… i live in romagna and this is perfect!

  • http://lemonsandanchovies.com/ Jean (Lemons and Anchovies)

    This is exactly what I have been craving for some time now. Can that picture look any more mouthwatering? I think not.  Perfection!

  • http://www.cookingsgood.com/ suzi

    This is absolutely beautiful.  BTW I dream about the scallops in tuxedo photo.  You are fantastic.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you Monica! I’m glad you approve. :) 

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Jean! It’s quite tricky to photograph a lasagna so I had to get a little creative. :)

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Suzi. Ah, yes. The scallops in black tie is a great dish.

  • Jennifer

    I followed a link to this recipe from Tastespotting and when I saw that it was yours I thought to myself, “Of course!” I have never seen a post on your website that wasn’t artful! Thank you for sharing your skill!

  • http://yesimstylekitchen.blogspot.com/ Yesim

    it looks great.. loved the presantation ..

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Yesim. 

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for the kind words, Jennifer. 

  • Anonymous

    Beautiful pictures!  The top one is stunning. And a really nice recipe.  I used to make lasagna all the time, but have gotten out of the habit.  I’ve never made one with spinach pasta, though, nor bechamel (and I know bechamel is typically how it’s made in Italy; mine is more American-Italian with all meat sauce).  It’s a really pretty dish.  And I know it must taste good.  Really nice post – thanks.

  • http://www.tastewiththeeyes.com/ Lori Lynn

    Ha! Even your casserole dish turned green.
    Love the cross-section photo.

  • http://thesubjectivist.net/ Amrita

    Just look at that, will you?! It’s gorgeous! And yes, as an equal opportunity cook, anything meaty deserves as much attention as anything with 4 cheeses in it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/cooking.rookie Cooking Rookie

    The more I look at this lasagna the more I am amazed by it! It’s so delicate… I just keep coming back to this post!. I think I have to try it :-)

  • Sara Chatfield

    This looks amazing! So pretty, and looks so delicious!

  • http://www.ouichefnetwork.com Oui, Chef

    Spinach pasta is totally a vegetable…yes siree!  Love the way you shot this as casseroles are so hard to make look good in a photo, you are brilliant .

  • Anonymous

    Thank you! I knew you would like that shot. :)

  • Anonymous

    Words to live by. :) Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    haha.. everything turns green in the Spring. Thanks, Lory Lynn. 

  • Anonymous

    I had to take extreme measures to get that shot. Thank you, Steve!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you, Sara. 

  • Anonymous

    Hey, why not! That’s what recipes are for. :)

  • http://twitter.com/OCFoodBlogger OCFoodBlogger

    This looks delicious! The spinach in the pasta is a nice touch.

  • Anonymous

    This looks amazing!  This might be the perfect recipe to hone my pasta making skills!

  • Petehautman

    “Thanks Jean! It’s quite tricky to photograph a lasagna so I had to get a little creative. :)” Was the photoed lasagna edible, or did you have to use spray adhesive and urethane varnish?

  • Anonymous

    Do you really think I would use anything fake for blogging? I don’t even know what those things are. Look around. This blog is all real, natural, edible and delicious.

  • CynthiaG

    Am I missing the “Print” button? I really want to try this recipe…

  • zenchef

    Sorry, there’s no print button on my blog yet. You can print the whole page or copy and paste the recipe to a word document. 

  • hotei0mu

    how can you call yourself zenchef and then serve a dish with ground up baby cow in it? perhaps you should revisit the basic tenets of buddhism…

  • J.E. Pizarro

    how judgemental….give me a break.

  • J.E. Pizarro

    This is my favorite lasagna recipe! I make it all the time!

  • CAP

    I agree…it’s a fantastic recipe. It’s my go to recipe.